tv KQED Newsroom PBS May 3, 2014 12:30am-1:01am PDT
transporting crude oil by rail is sparking safety concerns and pulling the rental map from air surface plus, a one on one with governor jerry brown. >> i'm john myers in sacramento, this historic governor's mansion has history inside and nobody knows that better than jerry brown. we sat down for a conversation about california politics and why he wants an unprecedented fourth term as governor.
good evening and welcome to kqed newsroom. i'm thuy vu. many proportionals to france port crude oil on the railroad is proposing health and safety concerns. a train derailed in virginia sparking a fire and forcing hundreds to be evacuated. in 2014, 1.3 million gallons of oil were spilled nationally more than the combined total of every year since 1975. many officials and residents are opposing planning to increase crude oil shipments, proposed storage and transfer facility in pittsburgh raised further controversy. how much of a danger does crude by rail pose and are there any alternatives? joining me now for a look at the issue are tom, consumer editor with ktuv. yvonne with the california office of spill prevention and
response and molly samuel. why is there so much concern? >> there are two on the table in the bay area. the pittsburgh one you mentioned, the west pack oil terminal that would wring in crude by rail, ship and pipeline and there is another, the valero refinery wants to build its own rail terminal. meanwhile, kinder morgan is bringing in crude by rail. the concerns come down to safety, the accidents that you've mentioned and this isn't just in the cities where the terminals are but going back up the tracks to where the oil comes from. >> why is there so much more oil being transported now, tom? >> because fracking especially. there is a new supply of oil in the united states, which has a ready market in the united states, in canada and overseas and so much available. the trouble is where it's coming from is not rich in pipelines the way that the coasts are and
various parts of the south are. as a result, if you sell the soil, you have to transport it. since it costs billions of dollars to build a pipeline, what do you do? you figure the alternative. trains are a good alternative. one car holds 30,000 gallons of crude oil. that's a lot of oil. put 100 cars together and you got something that is the equivalent of a pipeline on wheels, and if you have enough shipments, let me tell you how much we're talking about. 95 hundred carloads went by rail. in 2012 it was almost a quarter of a million. last year from 2012 to 400,000. >> what types of laws exist for how the oil is transported? >> so, i think there is a couple ways to look at that. one is the laws that govern the
railroads, which is done mostly at the federal level by the federal railroad administration. there is a lot of federal preemption for the state. they have authority to implement some of those, i'm sorry, the acronyms, the railroad administration's laws. there are requirements for tank standards. there are requirements for the cars they use. there is requirements for inspection of the rails themselves. one of the things that we would like to see at the office of spill prevention and response is to see our ability to regulate the movement of oil throughout the state, not just in the marine zone where we've done it since '91, but statewide and deal with the risks that come from rail or pipeline or from all of those areas because as you said, you know, you can move the oil however you're going to move it, but every way that you move it within the state is going to create its own risk and
cost benefits. >> right now are state and local governments told ahead of time which routes these trains are going to take and what kinds of crude oil they are carrying? >> every chemical car that carries anything has a plaque on it and if you go to google and put in the hazmat number in the diamond shape, you find there is a lot of nasty stuff in there. >> you have to see the train cars go by. is there advanced notice this is coming through the town? >> there is advanced notice the railroad would have to take something unusually dangerous. a lot of the stuff is business as usual. while they are aware this is going on, the reality in the situation is let's say the quarter up by puts burittsburgh houses were built up there. the industry kind of went away. so these want to become bedroom communities and did.
they built houses up next to the pg and e power plant with a big tank. a lot of people are under the impression and told by sales people, no, they will tear the tanks down. some of these people are within a couple hundred feet of these tanks. if one were to explode or have a leak, they would be very much at risk. >> unlike dow in contra costa county that has been around since the 1930s, there is a buffer zone. there are two different kinds of oil, right, molly? >> the majority being transported is from alberta, the tar sands, that's dirty oil. thick, takes a lot of energy to get it out of the ground. the concern is it's a climate change concern. environmental concern. the crude from north dakota, it's lighter, sweeter, but it seems to be volatile and this is the stuff that's been exploding in these fiery crashes, and so depending on what your major
concern is, either one is maybe not great, but it's two different issues that you're looking at with the different crude. >> let's add one other fact which is important for people to understand. even the rail industry says, there are 92,000 of these cars, older cars, you just don't buy one for two years and stay around for many, many years. 92,000 need to be upgraded or gotten rid of. that's a lot of money we're talking about, and the people will have to pay the fright, will have to pay the money and all the money the consumer has to pay. when you talk about 92,000 cars, you're talking about a ton of money. >> in fact, canada is making some movement in that realm because they recently aggressively pushed for the phasing out of the cars he talked about, the dot and 111 to phase them outco completely. >> discussions are going on at the federal level, as well, to take a look at the very same
types of things. there is voluntary agreements with the railroads, but i also think that and i'm back to acronyms again. the fra and pipeline hazardous materials is looking at what is reasonable, especially as you said, we're looking at oil. i mean, they have been transporting oil by rail for a long time this is nothing new. what we're seeing new with this oil that we've not seen before are the fires that somehow when it's derailed, you know, it's very volatile, the gas escapes, it's very easy for that gas to find an ignition source. i mean, steel is hitting steel, right? so you're seeing a lot of the heat induced tears, vapors come out and catch fire. so the fire is what we see is different and i know you and i talked about this earlier. we're seeing that the cause of these accidents are all different. >> the most recent one had to do
with the erosion of the side of where the track was, and it was they didn't apply brakes the way they were supposed to on the short line. one was the collapse of a tressel. there is also human factors, as well. the question is if they start transporting this, how do we do it in a more safe way and what are the public rights to know for the local governments, as well? >> the oil industry, tommy, excuse me, the oil industry makes arguments here and do they have a point when they say isn't it better to have oil from domestic sources than overseas? they claim this is safe. it creates jobs. it provides additional revenue for cities. do they have a point? >> they have a point. they punctuate that. there is a thing called spill rate. pipelines, the industry argues
has 6.3 gallons per ton mile. that's the thing. that is like 2.2 gallon per tons. the rail industry cars were much safer than a pipeline. maybe you are, maybe you aren't. it depends where the pipeline breaks. if it crashes in the middle of a town like canada, it killed 47 people. if it happened in lynch burg, didn't kill anybody but a big fire and hundreds and hundreds of people are evacuated. so these numbers are nice to toss around, but the thing that concerns the people that i talked to in pittsburgh and other places along the line and people in berkeley, wait a minute, we don't want to have this unless it is absolutely necessary and it's absolutely safe and nobody can guarantee that. >> there is movement on this because there are a couple pending pieces of legislation in california to regulate this and also, transportation secretary
anthony fox is sending out safeties to the white house. that's coming out by the end of this year. i want to thank you-all for being here for an insightful conversation. thank you-all. >> thank you. >> all of you. coming up, why do some bay area city officials want to take the air out of air b and b. but first, governor jerry brown weeks away from what is likely the final campaign of a political career that spans nearly half a century. brown is seeking a record fourth term 40 years after winning the race. the iconic democrat is embracing something he rejected in the 1970s, the tradition and the long view of california. kqed john myers caught up with brown at the historic governor's mansion in sacramento. >> reporter: it's part of california's rich political history, the house that served for more than six decades. to the public, it's museum. to jerry brown, it was a home, although a home not every
governor that lived here apreegs ua -- appreciated. >> some are used to ranch houses, one story. this is a victorian house very common. >> reporter: brown was 20 and in school when his father, the late pat brown took office and moved the family into the sacramento mansion. in the last few years, though, jerry brown has been quietly bringing this place back to life from private dinners with laeg sl -- legislators to bringing in to celebrate his 76th birthday. >> i have literally met not dozens but hundreds of near-term cousins in california and even in neighboring states. so i try to capture that history in my mind. i find the strength, orientation
and clarity of thinking where we came from. >> reporter: where jerry brown came from is far different from where he is now. >> i'm available to people and haven't seen too many good suggestions. >> in reducing government -- >> you don't help poor people when you cut government. people in government are people who got through the system and collecting a paycheck. often times trying to help and just helping themselves. >> his first go around as governor in the 70s was that of a politician in a hurry with presidential ambitions and no time or interest in the traditions of the past. now brown's pace of governing is slower and he seems more interested in leaving something behind. >> well, it changes because we are changed and the world is changing. there is pillars that i certainly endeavor to pull down to some degree. i've already fallen down and now
i feel the need that we got to build them up and create structures and foundations on which we can build this ever changing, ever complex diverse world. >> reporter: building and planning cemented his father's place in the history books. pat brown led endeavors to push california into the future, schools, waters, a system from north so south. jerry brown has his own historic battles to fight, a drought, a adea a delta tunnels project and keeping the system on track. what do you think your father would think about your work and the state? >> he had his sense of california's past and tradition and liked to build things. whether it was water or freeways or high-speed rail, i'm sure he would be excited to see california in the move. >> reporter: critics say california in so many other ways
is stuck, just this past week, toyota announced jobs from southern california. unemployment remains the fourth highest in the nation and brown has been criticized for not doing enough to help close the gap between rich and poor. >> one place that's been talked about a lot is the bay area and san francisco and protests against the tech companies and google buses. what do you make of that? do they have a point? >> they have a point because inequality. the return on assets is better than the return on labor. and people's ability to make salaries, but it also is part of the economy and prosperity and part of the tax system, so it's a matter of taking reasonable steps and i think we're doing that. we have raised the minimum wage. we're giving driver's licenses to undocumented people. that certainly is going to help. we have the local funding formula, which directs
significant, billions of dollars to schools to help them cope with low income families with non-english-speaking families with foster care kids. to try to close the gap, one state can't do that. >> reporter: he's not only pushed hard to implement the landmark law signed by his predecessor, he pushed for more, more reliance on electric cars and renewable energy. activists believe jerry brown contradicts his stance on the issue of fracking, using high-pressure water to loosen under ground oil deposits. last year he signed a law to study the effects but allow fracking to continue. they believe you're in denial about the dangers of fracking. they want a moratorium. >> some want a moratorium on oil
drilling and production in california and yet, i haven't heard a a moratorium on driving. californians own vehicles and travel in one year over 330 billion miles and most of it is fed by petroleum. if it doesn't come out of the ground in california, it has to come on a boat or train, and that causes pollution. it has dangers. so we need to balance it. >> reporter: balance in jerry brown's view seems to be a short-hand slogan for the campaign ahead. more work on the realignment from fans and more work on his plan to send education dollars to low-income communities and more focus on california's legacy and perhaps his own. >> you know, i think this is still something i'm thinking a lot about. people love change. well, i can tell you, when you're 76, you're not as excited about change as when you're 26.
but i know everybody wants change, but we also like continuity. tradition does have a a value. what is california? just the idea of the gold rush. what brought people here is still bringing people here. the google and entinternet and apple and california is a gold rush. so i think it's good to view the present through the lens of the past, but open to this incredible future that the state very much to possesses and i feel blessed to be part of. >> on now to the online rental service air b and b. it exploded with more than half a million rooms and houses listed around the world. the san francisco based company offers short-term rentals with hosts to travelers and others. in tight housing markets, it can be controversial. local officials, landlords and tenants are learning how to
regulate the industry. we talk to caroline about why tensions are growing. >> welcome. >> thanks. >> this air b and b issue has really stirred up a hornet's nest. what is it about the issue that touch add cord with so many different kinds of people? >> as you say, there are many, many different groups affected by air b and b. first of all, it's not a new idea for people to rent out rooms or sublet their place when they are out of town. we got tremendous reach and scoop so there are maybe 6,000 ro rooms and homes available on the website. they united in opposition and with who don't want tenants to sublet and security and wear and tear. we have tenant's rights and
activis activists. we have some union act ativest who worry that hotel jobs will start to be eroded and then we also have neighbors and neighborhood groups that worry those are quality of life issues. >> that can be a powerful coalition. >> that is. on the other side we have thousands of people renting out places who say they regular and a nice way to make extra income and meet people and the 10 million dollar company comes out with reports saying visitors generate good economic benefits to the cities they come to. >> there are two propels now floating around. one is a ballot measure being pushed by three, sort of well-known, doug, calvin welch, doug charleston and the board of supervisors and david chu. what is the difference between those propels and are they trying to more or less
accomplish the same thing? >> no, they are actually very opposite. on the surface, they have some similarities but where david's legislation would legalize and create a frame work for listings to continue. the proposed ballot initiative would make them impossible to operate, so that it would be reduced to a small hand full. they create a system for registry than anybody that wanted to rent out would need to register with the city. the chu legislation would make that somewhat private and information would be available under public records acts request. the ballot initiative would make it totally public. both would call for air b and b to collect and remit the 14% hotel tax, which the company said it will do this summer, two years, i might note after the san francisco treasurer said it should do so. but, there are a number of places they diverge. it creates a bounty hunter
system and could report somebody for doing b and b and if back tax and fines resulted, they would get a percentage of the minute. >> that's a snitch incentive there. what would happen if the city started enforcing laws, because there are laws that say you can't do short-term 30 days or less without a limit. >> the city is lightly enforcing it. the planning department will respond to complaints. they have 80 cases. it's not that easy for them to find places, even if they are on air b and b people don't put up exact addresses and try to hide themselves by marking a pin in the middle of the pacific ocean than the street they are on. they put up pictures that don't really show them as well. the city just don't have the person power to go around to 6,000 listings. >> the attorney general in new
york state is clamping down and hotels are furious about this. what about other cities in california? there are listings throughout the state, right? it's not just a san francisco issue. >> in many ways, it's most heavily an issue in san francisco and new york because these are the two cities with very scarce supply of rental housing and rapidly rising house prices and they are cities of renters and 2/3 rprd and 1/3 homeowners. it's reverse in other states. there are other neighborhoods for example west hollywood and l.a. like smaller neighborhoods organizing and pushing back but these are the most organized. >> really quickly, what comes next? is there a hearing? >> the chu legislation will move forward with planning hearings. they need to raise a lot of money. >> easier said than done.
>> yeah. >> thanks so much. >> thank you. and joining me now for a look at other stories we're watching is scott shafer. hi, scott. >> hi, thuy. >> the obama administration released a list of 55 colleges and universities they are investigating for the handling of sexual assaults and there are college campuses on the list. >> four of them here in the bay area, uc berkeley, where president obama attended for a couple years, usc and a small community college district north of sacramento. what they are investigating is looking whether or not there is a violation of title nine, which prevents discrimination on the basis of sex for schools that get public funding. that's the lever they have to launch this investigation. >> and it's a huge issue. the white house is saying one in five female students at colleges
and universities is sexual assaulted. what is the education department saying to do? >> they are not releasing a lot of details about the investigation itself. clearly, they are hoping to send a strong message they can't have business as usual. they want the universities to take complaints very seriously and not brush them away and of course, there is an echo, too, of the military where sexual assaults in the military is a big issue as well and a lot of criticism from people like jackie spear. >> this is an election year. are there political implications to this? >> always. of course, women are very generally supportive of democrats and tend not to vote in off year elections like this year and i think the obama administration and democrats hope issues like this will get women motivated to turn out in november. >> speaking of elections, there is a race in the south bay where incumbent mike honda is a facing a serious challenge from another
democrat. they will be on the same stage this weekend for probably the only forum they will have before the primary. >> that's right. kona is pushing for a debate with honda. he thinks he will do well. it's not really a debate but a forum. kona really portraying himself as a tech-savvy democrat and has big tech names in the valley. a lot of money, as well. a 2-1 cash advantage over honda. it will be a really closely watched and probably expensive race. >> there will be other candidates there, as well, but they are probably the two biggest names. >> by far, absolutely. >> there is a republican in there, as well. who may be there and not clear if she's going to show up or not and of course, the honda campaign is hoping she would siphon off votes from kona. we could have two democrats facing off. >> an interesting race because honda served seven terms and
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